Lost American Tour

2.26.2006

Since I've Been Gone

Damn kids. So much has happened. Let's do this chronologically. Ready, go.

I had spent the night at a B&B, the one I mentioned before with the fantastic Irish receptionist. I woke up much earlier than I expected because I am a worried traveler. I got my full Irish breakfast, which was an experience. They had normal stuff like eggs and toast and then they had 5 different types of meat and baked beans. I looked at my plate and just laughed. I tried a bit of everything, but some of the meat was frightening.

Moving on to more interesting things... I got to go through US customs in Ireland, so I didn't get the full strip search that I was expecting with quarantine for the bird flu or something. So I flew out. 8 hours on a plane. I didn't talk to the guy sitting next to me at all. He was a good-looking military guy. I just didn't feel like talking at all. Also, he was reading a book and had headphones on, which makes it easy for me to be avoidant.

I land in Chicago. Suddenly, I'm a foreigner in my own country. When I was going to Europe, I was prepared for the strange and different, so I adjusted. But I wasn't prepared for America. My belief that I look a little funny was confirmed during my layover. Two flight attendants were looking around for people on a flight to Germany. And they went out of their way to ask me if I was flying to Frankfurt.

Then I went to a Starbucks (I'd already been up for 12 hours and was looking at another 8 hours at least, so don't judge). I just wanted one of those medium size cold coffee things. I managed to find some American money. I ordered and went to pay and the price was totally different from the sign. I look at the clerk and then back to the sign. Then it dawns on me. Tax. In Europe, tax is always included in the displayed prices.

Not to mention I keep trying to stay left when walking. And there is the problem of me always saying "Cheers, thanks" after I buy something or ask a stranger a question. Ireland was the last place I visited, so I adjusted quickly. Now I'm having a problem of adjusting back.

When I got home from the airport, I was immediately escorted to my cousin's wedding reception. It was a crazy hootananny the way it is only possible in Wisconsin. Suddenly, I was thrust into the arms of my drunk and sober relatives. Everyone was hugging, it was fantastic. There were loads of people there that I didn't recognize either. And it was probably the liveliest reception ever. I hadn't been talking a whole lot the last three weeks, so my voice had started to hurt after an hour of solid talking. And I kept making jokes that the smoky bar wasn't as bad as Europe and that this was like fresh air in comparison. Then I'd get a coughing attack and have to go outside for a bit.

There's so much I've missed since I've been away. The Vice President shot a guy. The Powerball jackpot hit a new record. The Olympics. The Superbowl. Ok, nothing actually too serious.

By the way, I suspect my friends don't read international news, otherwise someone might've emailed me to check if I was ok. But I guess this was Saturday and no one really follows the news on the weekend. The day I left Dublin, there were massive protests in the city. Apparently the IRA had something to do with it. The protests had turned violent. They were only a couple of blocks from where I was staying. It was on O'Connell street. I hung out there a lot. It is a really beautiful and happening place. I was looking at the picture in the one newspaper that I could find that had more than a paragraph about it and I just kept thinking, "I was just there. Right before this happened. I took a bus down that street right before this went down."

1 Comments:

At 6:09 AM, Anonymous erin beck said...

that's an eerie feeling. when i was coming back from Turkey i spent the night in London and i was there the day of the subway bombings. the ones that made headlines back here, even. it was freaky to be traveling into the city as everything was streaming the other way.

 

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